Graduate nurses among first new international cohort on campus at Southern Cross University

Published 11 February 2022
International postgraduate nursing students Ross Unlagada, Lea Pamela Salvador and Justy Loudel Bontante

Southern Cross University is celebrating hosting new international students back on campus, with 36 international nurses now part-way through their training to work as Registered Nurses in Australia.

This comes ahead of the University welcoming the first full international cohort back to its Gold Coast, Lismore and Coffs Harbour campuses for the main 2022 intake at the end of February. 

The Australian border opened to international student visa holders in December, with these postgraduate nursing students among the first to arrive to study the Graduate Certificate in Australian Nursing at Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast campus in January.

This week these international health professionals will complete their month of intensive classes, to be followed by a six-week practical placement at Tweed Hospital, and will soon bolster Australia’s healthcare system in critical care hospital settings.

Student Lea Pamela Salvador said she and her classmates were thrilled to be among the first new international students back in the country, living on the beautiful Gold Coast and learning in state-of-the-art labs overlooking the beach and hinterland.

She has 10 years’ experience as a nurse, the past five as a manager for the critical care unit at a 500-bed infectious disease hospital in the Philippines.

“I was supposed to come into this Australian Nursing program two years ago but now the dream is finally happening and I will soon be qualified to work in Australia as a registered nurse,” she said.

“And with this week’s government announcement about tourists returning to Australia in February, I am looking forward to my family being able to come and visit.”

Her classmate Ross Unlagada also booked his tickets to Australia as soon as the border announcement was made.

“In the Philippines I was working in an adult Intensive Care Unit at the country’s biggest tertiary government hospital. The past two years working as a covid ICU nurse was very physically and mentally taxing, but I think it has prepared me well to work here in Australia,” he said.

“Southern Cross University has been so helpful and supportive, and I’m enjoying getting to know the other nurses who have arrived from around the world, from India, Samoa, Philippines.”

Justy Loudel Botante previously worked as a dialysis nurse at Western Visayas Medical Center, a 400-bed, tertiary and service-oriented government hospital in the Philippines. She said Southern Cross University had very helpful in assisting students and keeping them informed and updated ahead of their intensive course.

“I want to work wherever I can be a help to the Australian healthcare workforce especially during this pandemic,” she said.

Christine Martin, Manager International Student Mobility and Recruitment, said Southern Cross University was thrilled to welcome back commencing international students.

“We have greatly missed their input to our University and local community over the last 18 months, but we are proud of the resilience these students have shown over this challenging period,” she said.

Ms Martin said programs in the Faculty of Health and Faculty of Education were most popular, with a 40 to 50 per cent increase in international student enrolments in health and education across the last 12 months.

“While some traditional programs experienced a decrease in international demand while borders were closed, we are seeing international applications build again in 2022, with acceptances for the second half of the year already up 20 per cent on last year’s enrolment,” she said.

“We are also pleased with the diversity of nationalities represented in our student group, with strong growth in student enrolments from the Philippines, Brazil, Colombia and Japan, joining our students from China, India and Nepal.”

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794 or scumedia@scu.edu.au